Posted by : Mystee Saturday, June 5, 2010

**For this book, I will be interviewing the author....I would LOVE to include some reader comments, after reading my review...please feel free to place a question in my comments area. I will see to it that some of them are provided to him for answering.**

Summary from GoodReads: THE PROBLEM Every parent, politician and concerned citizen should read this book. Education hasn't changed much since Ben Franklin opened his Latin School. Each year, the system procreates itself as a carbon copy of what it did the year before. 21st Century public schools are inadequate for the modern world. Many say that we need deep educational reform. Our schools need fixin! IT'S NOT SOMETHING NEWConfucius said "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand. This point is very important in our search for the new school. We learn best by DOING!CONSTANT VS VARIABLEIn a typical public school classroom TIME is CONSTANT, and LEARNING is VARIABLE. Time allotted to learning a set body of information is one semester or term. Unfortunately it turns out that LEARNING is the VARIABLE because no two students digest the same amount of information at the same speed. Teachers spend a constant amount of pouring knowledge into student receptacles (brains). Students retain variable amounts of learning. Our aim is to make LEARNING the constant and TIME as the variable.HELPING TEACHERS DO WHAT THEY DO BESTIn today's school environment, very few teachers have the time, knowledge or technical skills they'd need to produce individual systems of learning. Even fewer are equipped to develop high-tech educational media modules. Though most teachers are experts at operating in the present classroom environment, it takes technically trained writers to generate the kind of formal manuscript which would lead to the development of effective self-paced, individualized media modules. Needless to say, we cannot put this kind of burden of development upon teachers. Their job is to manage learning, motivate students and inspire the next generation. That's why we must assign module development to media professionals. Then, these same professionals would train teachers in effective utilization. I realize it will take more than lip service to persuade teachers of the benefits of using media modules. But I'm convinced that once they experience it for themselves, they'll realize the efficiency and effectiveness that individualized media modules will bring to their classroom. Most important of all, they'll be building bridges which lead our deserving students to their highest potential. SCHOOLS HAVE FALLEN BEHINDBusiness, industry, and government agencies are already using individualized, self-paced materials and methods very successfully. A few institutions of higher education are using these techniques in varying degrees. In a few places, this dynamic approach to learning has filtered down into primary, elementary and secondary schools. Evidence of successful results is overwhelming for those units incorporating proper design and implementation. JUMP ON THE BANDWAGONIt is time to start! If you are creative and interested in helping students reach their highest potential, we need you on board. Spread the word. Send copies of this book to people of influence. Call your elected representatives. Provide blood for a major transfusion of intellect to a new team of innovative DO'ers. ABOUT THE AUTHORDr Ussery taught elementary school, secondary school, and adult education classes. He has written more than a hundred scripts for info and training films. He served as writer, director and producer of most of these films, and received more than a dozen top national awards for their excellence. Ussery earned his PhD (EdD) in Educational Technology.

My Review: {This book is rated G, however, there are quite a few terms that are more advanced, some readers may find themselves on Google more than reading the book to find out what certain things are} --Within this book, a new system of learning is suggested. It consists of different variables and different grading systems. Along with the different grading systems it allows for a rather large change in curriculum needed in order to graduate and there are simply pass or fail grades. It would also require restructuring of the schools that we have.

This program seems to consider life skills and other variables more important than some of the mundane seemingly unnecessary classes that kids take. {Come on, it happens to us all, kids come home and have no idea why they'll ever need what they're learning--what answer do you provide to your children?} So, with this program, it seems that some of this would be eliminated. However, in the end, I feel that, based on your chosen college major, almost every class is useful and how can you tell what you want to do if you haven't experienced these courses previously? Can you imagine someone going into physics having never had a class in it prior to college?

I'm VERY on the fence with these proposed changes. While I do agree that there are definite changes that need to be made...I'm not sure these are the best solution. Although, I really DO like some of the concepts...perhaps just integrated differently.

This type of program would cost some rather large amounts of money to implement. Problem with this: the schools are closing, laying off teachers and increasing class sizes and making more money the responsibility of the parents {remember when public school was free?}. I've been thinking on a better way for schools to work for years...changes are needed, but we have to consider the cost of these changes. There should be cheaper ways to provide a wonderful education to EACH child, no matter their level of learning.

While this theory doesn't allow teacher to simply push students through the system {which they've tried to do with mine and I'm one of the few parents that have put my foot down on it}, it bases everything on a pass/fail point system. Once you've accumulated so many school points and so many out of school activity points, you can graduate from high school. Or at a certain age you would be able to also simply leave school.

This system is also a personal type of learning whereas those who learn faster can master faster and move on, while those who struggle can work at their own pace as well. There's that *No child left behind learning concept,* you know, the one we really hope our educators are using? Well, here's the thing, it may seem like this isn't the same principal...but bottom line, it is. These children who are not average or advanced are still going to be left behind. At what cost to them? Just because a child learns slower and has more difficulty with one area over another...does not mean that he or she is lacking in intelligence. I think it's very important that we work with these children to let them see their true potential.

I don't feel that those students considered *less deserving* should be left behind. Besides, who has the right to make that decision? It WILL affect that child for life. As I mentioned: slower does NOT equal dumber. Let's also not forget the different learning types.

Some people learn by reading, others by doing, others by being show, then reading, then doing...any combination of. Why not find a child's best method and base classes on that? There are generally at least four teachers at each grade level. I think, personally, that this option is very acceptable and really not more expensive.

In this book, it is also mentioned that school failure and bouts at school that cause low self-esteem cause mental illness. What do you all think? I tell my children that life is NOT a bed of will not always be positive. People will try to bring you down, but they can only do so if YOU allow them to do it. I think by implementing an overly well adjusted and positive school atmosphere we'd simply be giving children false hope and setting them up for failure once they get pushed out into the real world.

It is mentioned in this book that the four types of learning are: naturalism, idealism, process-structure and experimentalism. I think all of these have a reward...I think if we're wanting to restructure the school system, some of each should be implemented. My personal opinion is that no ONE of them, standing alone, is really of any value.

M. R. Ussery also brings up an interesting fact of how there is a large possibility that all teachers are not up to date. Are the colleges and universities keeping their classes updated and current? Are older teachers logging the correct number of class updates? To be honest {and very embarrassing for me}, as into and knowledgeable as I try to be with my children's education, this thought had never occurred to me. This is something I will definitely be referencing this school year.

Another proposed idea is also the change in learning times. The school would be open from 6am to 6pm and students could come in anytime within those hours, so long as they log six hours per day. There would also be an option of some/all learning to be done at home, so long as there was proof of the items being completed. Also, the school year would be adverted to possibly start in January and have four quarters of eleven weeks with a two week break between each.

Within the book, the author also makes some interesting statements about home schooling. I have always thought about doing this with mine, but simply do not know if I am up to the task of four different grade levels. He pretty much banishes the accusations that it's depriving a student of interaction with other children..and I see his point. He also banishes the fact that a parent isn't educated enough to teach his/her own child. The way he explained home school, while it's not for everyone, I would never question anyone home schooling again.

I could go on and on about this book. I'm also going to suggest the principal at my children's school to view this. As I said, it does bring up some very interesting ideals in learning. Is it possible? Perhaps. Will it happen? Perhaps. I think this program would work VERY well with a few other ideas and educational goals thrown into it. As a parent, I know what I feel my children should come out of school having learned and experienced.

Get your thoughts in....also, I'd love to know if you're an educator, parent, etc. As I also mentioned, please feel free to leave questions for me to forward for our upcoming interview.

Pages: 51

Review copy of this book provided by the author or publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.

{ 2 Expressions ♥... read them below or Comment }

  1. What a great review. I would defintiley like to read this book. I'd be one of the readers that needed google help, but it sounds very interesting. I'd like to know what the author thinks the cost per school would be to implement his program.

  2. Awesome Review!!! I am a parent, but I am a Substitute teacher as well. I think that our school district is doing a great job, but there are a few things that were mentioned that would be great. We have gotten technology in the schools. Students are required to read books and then take tests on them in at the computer. They also have SMART Boards in every class. It is awesome!

    Although, his program maybe different and beneficial I also think that some things need to be left out.

    How does he plan to accomplish his learning style with it being a big change? Would it be over a span of years or would he want us to jump straight into it?


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